Sunday, 15 August 2010

TGO Photographs

I've finally gotten around to sorting out my photographs from this year's TGO Challenge.

As you may remember from a previous post; I left the SD card for my camera behind and had to take most of the photographs with my video camera.

If you click on the link below the picture, it will take you to the TGO Challenge album.

St. Cyrus beach
From My TGO Challenge

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Chameleon Wrap Slam Update

I have been wearing these shoes for the best part of a month now; mainly on day walks to the local woods and on the urban walks I have been doing.

The walks range in distance for a couple of miles up to the longest which was about 6 miles. Terrain has consisted of woodland path to normal city concrete pavements.

There has been very little rain in the South over the month; so testing the shoes in the rain has been impossible, As there is no waterproof liner, I would expect the shoes to get wet in wet condition. I would allow expect them to take a while to dry out, as they are quite a well padded shoe.

Padding detail

The wrap design on the shoes help to fit the shoes better to your feet and this with the high amount of padding does help to give the shoe a boot-like feel.

Wrap detail

I found the sole to be quite stiff; just like a boot's sole; which along with the rather chunky vibram sole did give good protection on hard surfaces; although on the longer walks I did find that the stiffness and lack of flexibility did seem to make my feet ache more that normal for the distance.

In my initial report I did say that I thought the shoes where on the heavy side, after wearing them for a time, I still think this. They are heavy enough to know you are wearing them, especially when going up hills or climbing stairs.

Although the shoes are comfortable and give good foot support; I don't think they would be my 'go to' shoes for walking mainly because of the weight and the stiff sole, I have gotten so use to a light shoe and flexible sole.

I see the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slam trainers as possibly a good shoe for somebody who wants to move away from a full boot but isn't sure that the super lightweight shoes are for them; obviously something like a Sealskin or Goretex liner would be needed, as I can't see these being quick drying.

Thanks to Adam and Fitness Footwear for the chance to test & review the shoes.

More days out

Deer, Greenwich Park

Greenwich Naval College

Greenwich Park Panorama

Canary Wharf

From Days out

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Salad Days

Yesterday was spent going around the Natural History and Science Museum in London.

I haven't been to either of these Museums since around 1976/77; back then I spent quite a lot of time there, for reasons I won't go into.

There was plenty of feelings of deja vu, seeing some of the same exhibits from back then, like the dinosaurs and the Apollo 11 moon lander (obviously a reproduction).

Things have changed though; back then the most interesting electronic 'gadget' in the Science Museum was the T.V that had Ceefax on it. Nowadays its all touchscreen interactive computers.

One thing the Science Museum always had were either really old things like Stephenson Rocket, or Beam engines or items that Joe Public would never own like a Cray computer or Space craft.

But yesterday I saw a Chopper Bike, NES Console and an original Game Boy machine; these are not old (well that old to be a Museum!!) these are part of my childhood and early twenties.

Going to Museums can sure make one feel old.

Major Tom

From Days out

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sea to Summit X-Series

Occasionally I get asked if I would like to test and review equipment, other times I will see something that interests me and I will contact the supplier/manufacturer to see if it would be possible to have an item to test/review.

Burton McCall were nice enough to send me a set of the Sea to Summit X-Series Mug, Bowl and Plate.

For years I always carried two cook pots; one of meals and the other a small one for doing 'brews'. The main reason for this was that when using homemade dehydrated meals, they needed to soak for an hour or so, and this ment that one pot was not usable in this time.

I did for a time use just one pot and a plastic bowl but it would not always fit into pockets easily and occasionally pressing to hard on the pack would crack the bowl.

I did also for a time try the Orikaso set of mugs and bowls but never got on with these.

So after seeing a x-bowl on this year's TGO Challenge I though this maybe the ideal solution for the way I cook.

The best way to do this review is do the items individually; So I will start with the X-Mug.


Weight: 52 g
Size: 20mm x 110mm (when flat) 85mm x 110mm (when open)

The X-mug is made from food grade silicone material, this means that it won't taint any liquid that is placed into it.

The mug has a nylon rim to help give rigidity to the mug. The mug is calibrated on the inside in ml and cups, so can be used as a measuring cup. The measurements show from 100 ml to 480 ml.

It will hold 480 ml (2 cups) of liquid but this will take it to the top of the mug; Personally I only fill it to about the 350 ml (1 1/3 cups) this is because where you pick the mug up normally i.e by the sides the mug squishes sightly and can cause the liquid to overflow. The mug can be picked up by the rim but you need to have fairly big hands to do this.

Comparing the x-mug to my old mug; the x-mug will hold sightly more liquid but does weigh a few grams more. But it is much easier to pack away inside a pack or even in a trouser pocket.

Old & New

I do have one niggle and one concern with the x-mug; the niggle is that although the mug will take quite high temperatures, it doesn't seem to hold the heat particularly well. I wouldn't expect it to hold heat like a insulated mug but I found that the heat disperses quite quickly; even quicker that the old plastic mug I normally use. Now I don't know the reason for this; it could be the the walls of the x-mug are quite thin or it could be that silicone don't retain heat particularly well.

The concern is how resistant the silicone is to puncture; I like to have my brew kit close to hand which means I carry it in the outside pockets of my pack. Packs can sometimes get snagged on items like gates, stiles and the odd bit of barbed wire and this could puncture the x-mug; I know this may never happen but I think about these things.

Pros: light and compact, holds a good amount of liquid

Cons: Doesn't seen to keep liquid hot for very long, possibly easy to puncture


Weight: 86 g
Size: 15 mm x 150 mm (flat) 60 mm x 150 (when open)

The X-bowl is made for the same materials as the X-mug the only difference being that there is no nylon rim; the nylon this time is in the base of the bowl.

The base of the bowl can be used as a cutting board, if you are someone who like to cook and prep fresh food out of the trail.

Again the bowl is calibrated to use for measuring, and shows from 100 to 500 ml.

The bowl can hold a maximum of 650 ml; and you can use virtually all of this, as this time as you are more likely to hold the bowl in the palm of your hand.

I used the bowl for a breakfast (Oat So Simple) and a homemade dehydrated meal and neither of these meals came above the 400 ml mark.

X-Bowl & Breakfast

But once again I found the the meals seems to get cooler quicker than in either a traditional bowl or my Vargo ti-lite mug.

Pros: light and compact, small pack size

Cons: Doesn't seen to keep food hot for very long


Weight: 152 g
Size: 15 mm x 220 mm (Flat) 38 mm x 220 (open)

Again the X-plate is made from the same silicone and nylon, as the other two items. Because of it's bigger size, you get a much bigger cutting board and the plate will hold 1170 ml.

Now I have to admit the I can't really find a way of fitting this plate into my backpacking set-up. It has nothing to do with the weight or the size but more to what I would use it for.

Most of my meals on trips are 'heat and eat' so the X-bowl would serve this purpose 99.9% of the time.

I could see the plate being used on 'Glamping' trips with the family; when having 'proper' meals in a tent.

Pros: light and compact, good if you like a large plate

Cons: doesn't really fit in with my type of backpacking

Overall I see the mug & bowl to be a good addition to my backpacking kitchen.

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